Kramer Officially On Rehrmann's Ticket
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 16, 1998; Page B06
Former Montgomery County executive Sidney Kramer reemerged after an eight-year absence from the political limelight yesterday to officially join Democrat Eileen M. Rehrmann's ticket in the Maryland gubernatorial race.
Yesterday's announcement had been leaked days earlier. But for Kramer, his appearance at Rehrmann's new Laurel headquarters marked the start of his first formal campaign since his dramatic loss to Neal Potter in the 1990 race for county executive. At that time, Kramer was the heavily favored incumbent -- with gubernatorial aspirations of his own -- yet Potter (D) rode an anti-development wave that led to Kramer's defeat.
Now, the former executive will get second billing in a campaign that political analysts widely consider an underdog to the well-funded reelection effort of incumbent Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D).
During his eight-year hiatus, Kramer, 72, tried to stay involved in Democratic Party politics. He has considered running for General Assembly, and he helped the party raise money. He also frequently conferred with Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), who named him to represent the county on the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority.
Yet his work has been largely behind-the-scenes. Yesterday, he seemed to genuinely enjoy his return before the cameras and cheering campaign supporters.
"I haven't had this kind of reception and applause since my bar mitzvah," he said with a big smile moments after Rehrmann introduced him as her running mate.
With Kramer on board, Rehrmann adds a recognizable Democrat from the state's most populous jurisdiction to her campaign. He also is a businessman with considerable ties to the business and development community in one of Maryland's wealthiest counties.
Rehrmann also gets a lieutenant governor candidate who has made no secret about his dislike of Glendening.
Kramer said that his desire to defeat Glendening gave him a sense of purpose that helped fuel his decision to reenter the political arena. "The person who is sitting in the office now is not giving the people of this state what they deserve, and you can sum that up in one word: integrity," he said.
It is unclear, however, how much his presence on the ticket will help Rehrmann at the polls in September. As the Harford County executive, she remains a relative unknown to voters in the Washington region.
Bethesda pollster Keith Haller said the addition of Kramer to the ticket could help Rehrmann win back some of the Montgomery voters she likely lost with her support for slots at state racetracks.
Even so, Haller observed that many of Kramer's former supporters are probably now supporters of current Montgomery Executive Douglas M. Duncan. And Duncan (D) is soon expected to endorse Glendening's candidacy.
"Whatever political base he enjoyed was probably transferred to Doug Duncan, and Duncan is moving in the opposite direction," Haller said.
Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Glendening campaign, said that Kramer does not solve one of Rehrmann's biggest problems in Montgomery. "She's still the slots and casinos candidate and we believe that the majority of Montgomery County voters are opposed to that."
Kramer, however, said he believes the key issue is integrity, which he said he and Rehrmann have and Glendening does not.
"As I go out and talk to people, I ask them 'What do you think of our governor?' And they'll look and they'll say 'We don't really like him.' I'll ask why and they'll say 'We don't know why,' " he said. "I want to define for them why he has that reputation."
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company